Case Study 1

Image Development for “Take The Plunge”


This large post card sized mailer started with a very simple concept: a bunch of people jumping into a television screen that’s also a pool. Okay, the concept seems relatively straight forward enough, but how was I to pull this off within a very strict budget and deadline? I tried several stock photo web site databases, but “a bunch of people jumping into a television screen that’s also a pool” simply wasn’t an option to purchase. No real surprise there. So I started from where I typically do…from scratch.

Here’s a very trimmed down version of how it all went:

Step 1:

Start compiling stock pics that will be useful


This group of nine stock pictures created the basis for the final graphic. Not all of these were selected at this stage of development, but with the majority of them sorted out, the next step was to prepare the pool.

Step 2:

Preparing the pool


The picture selected wasn’t wide enough to fit comfortably within the 4.25″ x 11″ post card layout. Extending the surface of the pool was simple enough to accomplish, but I was left with large holes in the background. I added a spruce tree on the top left to cover over the missing house wall. To the right, I introduced a new garden. I knew that a large icon would be filling up most of the space where the new garden was, so I was not too concerned with my edges. Speaking of edges…

Step 3:

Creating the edge of the pool


The pool edge needed to look like a television screen. The problem I encountered was, modern television frames are very thin and mostly black. In fact, many television frames are near non-existent. For the purpose of selling this concept, my television frame had to be thick; however this just made the pool look like a picture frame. I quickly discovered that having water in the pool was going to be a problem if I was to convince viewers that it was indeed a tv screen. Okay, no problem, I thought. I’ll just put imagery on the screen and that will be that. Only, that wasn’t that. Now it no longer looked like a pool. The single image on the screen only made it look more like a framed photograph. To address this, I created two options for the client to approve; one with a menu guide featuring fake television programs, and the other with multiple screens. The client preferred the multi-screen option. Finally, I decided to “sink” the screen image to a few inches below the water’s surface. This seemed like a good balance between tv and pool. I was then ready for the big task: sourcing the jumpers.

Step 4:

Sourcing the jumpers


Selecting appropriate pictures of people jumping into a pool is time consuming, but not all that difficult. However for this project, it was. I needed to have specific angles to match the background imagery. What I mean is, finding a photo of someone performing a classic cannonball is easy, but finding one with the person facing the camera…and in focus…and without motion blurring…and just entering the surface…well, this is an entirely more complex search than expected. For some reason, I also found it slightly more troublesome to find good quality images of people jumping from behind. Strange. Stock photographers – get on this.

Step 5:

The assembly


Gathering stock photographs of people jumping into a pool is an easy task. However, only having them jumping isn’t enough; someone needed to make a splash. Creating a splash that would look realistic on my newly created, “Screen-pool”, wasn’t really all that difficult as I have a lot of experience at this. It just meant some custom rendering of waves, ripples, splashes and whatnot. Honestly, I thought that was going to be my biggest challenge for this stage. I was wrong, however. Surprisingly, the real difficulty came when I reflected upon what I had created. I say, reflected, because I suddenly realized I needed reflections of the people on the glassy surface of the water. I don’t believe I’ve ever before encountered a stock photo that was taken with two cameras, from two different angles. If I was to have reflections of the man in blue trunks and the woman in the red bikini, I would have to figure out a new plan. So I did. It’s a bit of a cheat, but I used different people for their reflections. I was forced to re-position arms, change colours of bathing suits, add wrist bracelets…and generally monkey around a lot to mimic their reflections. All of this had to come before I could begin thinking about…

Step 6:

The final touches


This is the stage of details, details, and more details. It starts with cast shadows and water highlights. But, soon it comes time for reflected light bouncing back on the body’s of the jumpers. Then come the softened edges to create depth, textures, adjustments to tones and colour matching. Lastly, on goes the headline and sub-header, as well as the company’s icon…and the front imagery is done.